The first time your baby cries and you give her a hug, you can feel how, instinctively, soothing singing can help calm her down. Singing lullabies and nursery rhymes evens out the voice and we quickly fall back on songs we haven't sung since we were small ourselves.
Helen Yeomans, a Devon-based singer/songwriter and mother of four has devised her own songs and unearthed soulful renditions from across the globe to help sooth children in a new way and encourage parents to sing to their offspring more often.
Yeomans started the Thula Mama a capella singing group in her home town of Totnes designed specifically to nourish the needs of mums as well as their babies. 'Thula Mama' is named after a traditional South African lullaby, translated as ‘hush, be quiet, don’t cry'. Far from a traditional singing group where children get together and sing, at Thula Mama it is the mothers who sing, to soothe babies who are all pre-crawling age.
As well as the soothing effect singing has on babies, getting together for a group singing session is powerfully uplifting for mums. It is a way of developing a sense of community and is a grounding and confidence-building activity for mothers who can often feel very isolated. ‘The fact that they can soothe their babies with just their voice, whatever their singing ability is very therapeutic for them,’ says Yeomans. Similar groups are now set to be rolled out to other towns and cities across the UK.
A Thula Mama CD, 'Soul Cool Babies' with songs from places as diverse as Africa, Spain, Russia, Hawaii and the USA is also available, enabling mothers and babies to enjoy the Thula Mama experience at home or with their own gathered friends. Another CD, 'Tootsie Toolahs', is due for release spring 2008, and is an eclectic mix including songs from Israel, Africa and the deep American south.
To get a feel for what the CDs sound like, to buy the CDs or to find out more about Thula Mama or details on how to set up your own group where you live, visit www.thulamama.co.uk.